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Our Readers Write: District responds to evaluations article

December 15, 2010

In response to Andrew Shortall's article in the Dec. 9 edition of the Valley Sun regarding the La Cañada Unified School District teacher-evaluation cycle and process ("Wilcox says teachers escape evaluations"), I would like to clarify a number of the key assertions presented.

LCUSD Governing Board members discussed teacher evaluation at length in open session on Sept. 28. At that meeting I presented on the newly developed teacher-evaluation instruments, which are based upon the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. These evaluation instruments were developed by a joint committee comprised of administrators and teachers who engaged in action research on best practices in teacher evaluation. Their finished products are exemplary tools for assessing professional practice and supporting teachers in their professional development.

Also, in my presentation and the subsequent Governing Board discussion, information was shared that every teacher within the District develops annual goals based upon professional standards. Two of the goals that all teachers must address are directly tied to how they use student-assessment data to effectively guide their instructional practices. This practice is critically important because every teacher, whether he or she is on this year's evaluation schedule or not, is developing, reflecting upon and engaging with the principal on his or her professional goals. These can be measured, in part, by student-assessment data (assessment is anything which measures student achievement or mastery of subject-area content).

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Additionally, the LCUSD Governing Board has discussed in open session the new professional-development protocols implemented at the beginning of this year. These protocols guided teachers through two days of student-achievement data analysis. The protocols provided the opportunity for students to be identified by their teachers based upon assessment data for interventions It also provides for specific contracts or targets to be established between intervention staff and individual students. The student-achievement data review directly impacts the development of annual professional goals for every teacher and has meaningful implications for teachers on this year's evaluation cycle.

Finally, Education Code 44664 requires at least a five-year evaluation cycle for teachers with permanent status who have been employed at least 10 years with the school district, are highly qualified and have satisfactory evaluations. It does not require the two-year cycle as suggested by the article. The LCUSD collective-bargaining agreement with the teachers improves upon this statutory requirement by providing for a four-year evaluation cycle for these employees, with the option of a two-year cycle also included in the agreement's language.

Wendy Sinnette

The writer is assistant superintendent, human resources for the La Cañada Unified School District.

Editor's clarification: The story mentioned here covered complaints made by LSUSD board member Cindy Wilcox during a school-board meeting. It quoted Wilcox as asserting that a two-year teacher-evaluation cycle is require by the state. The Valley Sun did not, on its own, make such an assertion or suggestion.

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